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Yellowstone National Park

A Photo Journal of America's First and Best National Park
Article Date: January, 2015


Old Faithful Area

The Old Faithful area is the most popular spot with visitors. Everyone wants to see the famous geyser blow and its predictability makes it a sure bet. But Old Faithful geyser is not the only thing of interest in this area. The entire area is known as the Upper Basin. Within this huge basin are a number of other thermal features. Indeed, while Old Faithful is the most regular geyser, it is not the tallest. Many other geysers are just as spectacular and a few are even larger. The many thermal pools and hot springs drain their way across this barren landscape and drain into the Firehole River, which then heads north to its junction with the Madison River. In the midst of this area sits the grandest hotel of all, the Old Faithful Inn. Built in 1904 this hotel set the stage for a new style called "parkitecture" and many future resorts were patterned along the original design ideas of Robert Reimer. The Old Faithful complex also contains a number of concessionaire facilities and the Snow Lodge remains open in winter. Although the roads are closed to vehicular travel, Old Faithful can be reached by snowmobile or snow coach and is the premier destination for winter travelers. In the fall elk herds congregate to graze in this area and bison are full time residents here. During winter the warm thermal features help provide access to the grass for the Bison, who use their massive neck muscles to plow snow away to expose this precious food supply.

Upper Geyser Basin

The area behind Old Faithful is filled with boardwalks that connect the various geysers and thermal features. The earth is dangerously thin in these areas and underground rivers and pools of boiling water lie just underneath. These boardwalks allow visitors to safely explore these areas.

Lion Geyser at Night

Lion Geyser is actually a group of Geysers on a common mound. Big Lion, Lioness, Cub, and Baby Lion are all interconnected. Late on a summer evening the sun hasn't quite gone down over the Yellowstone caldera. A combination of longitude, latitude, and altitude give it just the right combination for late evening explorations of this area.

Beehive Geyser in Winter

Beehive Geyser has a mound of geyserite that has built up over the years. Its name comes from the roaring sound that it makes when it erupts, which sounds like a flurry of angry bees buzzing around their hive. This particular image was captured in mid September when a freak snowstorm fell upon the park. The roads were ice and the park was actually closed for a full day for safety reasons. Old Faithful Inn is in the background.

Boardwalks in Winter

These boardwalks are shown during that September storm and give an idea of the majestic beauty of Yellowstone in winter.

Old Faithful Inn

Built in 1904, the Old Faithful Inn is a classic example of the style of architecture that was applied to the various national park lodges. It was constructed entirely from materials found nearby and its Lodgepole Pine logs blend with its surroundings. As part of its 100th anniversary, the Inn began a restoration to restore some areas that were showing their age to their former glory. Its porch overlooks the Old Faithful Geyser and the Inn is a prominent feature in the Lower Geyser Basin.

Old Faithful Inn Fireplace

Visitors to the Old Faithful Inn are awestruck as they enter the lobby. Standing in the midst of this five story lobby is the huge stone fireplace surrounded by balconies of hand picked Lodgepole Pine railings from the surrounding area. There are separate fireplaces on each side of the massive stone structure but three of them were deemed unsafe after the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake shifted some stones, blocking the flues. As part of the Inn's 100th anniversary renovation, these fireplaces are being restored. Originally surrounded by a sunken pit the seating area is now at floor level but the pit is being restored as part of the current renovation.

Castle Geyser

Castle Geyser is one of the most popular geysers in the Lower Basin. An easy walk from the Old Faithful Inn, its prominent cone is castle shaped and gives it its name. Generally erupting three times each day, it sends large plumes of boiling water into the air for several minutes, followed by long periods of steam.

Old Faithful

The number one attraction in the park, Old Faithful Geyser spouts quite regularly. The park service monitors the height and duration of each eruption and posts a fairly accurate prediction as to the next eruption time. It reaches heights of between 110' to 180' and eruptions occur on the average every 60-75 minutes.

Waiting for the Show

Whenever it gets close to the posted time of Old Faithful's predicted eruption the boardwalk and bleachers fill with expectant tourists. Summer is a particularly busy time at this popular geyser and its eruption is generally accompanied by a host of oohs and aahs.

One of the Locals

There are a handful of bison that are regular residents of the Old Faithful area. They typically can be seen walking around on the pathways and roadways and lounging in parking lots. Always a big hit with tourists, they should never be taken for granted. While these "locals" are fairly accustomed to tourists, they can get agitated if approached too closely so always give them a wide berth.

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